San Francisco Giants: Denard Span has One of the Best Months of his Career in June

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - JUNE 27: Denard Span
SAN FRANCISCO, CA - JUNE 27: Denard Span /

June was another down month for the San Francisco Giants, but the same can not be said about center fielder Denard Span.

June was another tough month for the San Francisco Giants. Even with a four-game winning streak, their second-longest win streak of the season, to close out the month, they finished June with a 9-18 record with a .333 winning percentage for their worst month of the season. As the team struggled again, center fielder Denard Span enjoyed his best month with the team.

Span came to the Giants as a free agent before the 2016 season with a long history of success and consistency in the big leagues. In his first eight years as a major leaguer – five years with the Minnesota Twins and three years with the Washington Nationals – he owned a .287/.352/.395 slash-line and hit 10-plus triple three times, scored 80 or more runs three times, and stole at least 20 bases four times. He led the National League in hits in 2014, slapping 184 hits across the diamond for the Nats.

As a leadoff hitter, he was exactly what a team wanted. He could get on base, traverse his way around the bases with good speed, and find ways to make things difficult for the defense. But he just couldn’t find that kind of success with the Giants. He’d had flashes with the team, including a five-RBI day on Opening Day 2016 and a quite solid month of August last season, but consistency just wasn’t easy to come by.

In June, Span was able to put behind a couple of down months to begin 2017. In April, he was hitting .200 with only four extra-base hits (all doubles) before being sidelined with a shoulder injury caused by crashing into the center field wall at AT&T Park to make a nice, running catch on April 22nd.

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He came back from the disabled list on May 11th, and came back on fire. In his first game back, he collected four hits, including his first home run of the season, against the Cincinnati Reds. The next day, he had three more hits in the 17-inning affair for seven hits in his first two games back. The rest of the month didn’t go so well. He hit just .186 in 15 games through the rest of May.

His June hot streak started during the very first game of the month. On June 2nd against the Philadelphia Phillies, he beat up Philly pitching for five hits, including two doubles and an RBI, for his first five-hit game as a Giant and the fifth of his career.

28 days later, on the final day of the month, Span had another huge day. Against the Pittsburgh Pirates, the Giants’ center fielder picked up four hits, while also working a walk, en route to scoring four runs for the second time in his career.

The month was bookended by great games, but there was plenty to talk about in between as well. Overall, Span played in 27 games during June (26 in which he had a plate appearance), and collected multiple hits 12 times. That includes the June 27th game against the Colorado Rockies, during which he picked three hits. His first hit was a run-scoring single to put the Giants ahead 1-0, and the third was a run-scoring single in the 14th for his first walk-off hit with the team.

For good reason, Span was all smiles on the basepaths after that hit, and he had good reason to smile all month long. He had 40 hits and a .374 batting average in June, making it only the best month of his Giants’ tenure, but one of the best months of his entire career. He’s only had more than 40 hits in a month twice, both coming during his time with the Twins. He had 42 hits in both August of 2009 and May of 2010. Only one month out of his entire career featured a better batting average, when he hit .375 back in August 2009.

Team-wise, there weren’t many hotter hitters than Span on the team. He led the team in hits, average, and runs scored (21) during June, and was second in extra-base hits (11), on-base percentage (.427), and slugging percentage (.542). He raised his slash-line from .231/.273/.380 on May 31st to .298/.347/.456 as the calendar turns to July.

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No one knows how things will play out as the trade deadline nears, or if Span’s value will be high enough to warrant a trade. For now, Span has raised his game and is doing his best to pull the Giants out of this months-long slump and make them, at the very least, a respectable team again. He put forth a great effort in June, and hopefully can continue to be a leader heading into July.